Love, Even When it’s Hard

What kids say…

Do you remember your first love?  That time when you would think about them almost every day or even every moment.  Some would say that your first love is unforgettable, because it was new and wonderful, passionate and life-altering. Almost like a surreal, dreamlike reality.  It’s no wonder that we as a society struggle with how to love when we categorize it that way based on one, usually very young, experience.  The question is, if love is a feeling, how in the world can you promise to love someone forever? Feelings are fleeting things. They are here one minute then change with circumstances.

What we think…

Of all the things in our lives, our feelings are the part of us we have the least control over. You can’t promise to feel a certain feeling every day for the rest of your life. Some days are harder than others. Some days you get frustrated. Some days you’re just done. If love is a feeling – love for a friend, love for a husband or wife, love for others – it’s no wonder the odds are better than even that it won’t last.  Like those fleeting feelings, it will change.

What God says…

When you look in the Bible though, love isn’t just something we promise to each other. It’s something we’re commanded to give away – to God and to love people. When a lawyer asks Jesus for the key to understanding it all, Jesus says: “Love the Lord completely and love your neighbor as yourself.” The night Jesus washes his friends’ feet, Jesus tells them: “I give you a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you.”

In the Bible, love is an action first and a feeling second.  God doesn’t choose to command our feelings, but He does command our actions.  When we say “Love God, love people” at Community Church, what we mean is that we are so full to the top from loving God and Him loving us that it overflows on everyone around us.  We stay present, stay available, keep on loving even when it’s hard to love sometimes.  Even when all the world would judge, or turn and walk the other way, we love anyway by actions – not by words.  Jesus said that where your treasure is that’s where your heart will be. We believe that when we show the action of love, even when it’s hard, then love “the feeling” will follow.  You do it, and you’ll feel it.

Do it and feel it…

On days when I don’t feel sympathetic, I can choose to listen and care anyway.

When I’m not feeling patient or kind, I can extend a hand to help anyway.

When I’m not feeling like I want to forgive, forgiveness is exactly what I need to offer.

When I feel like I want to yell, offer a soft tone and loving heart.

All of these things aren’t easy, but have you ever thought about how God loves us, even when we’re at our worst? When we had the worst attitude, acted in rebellion against Him, and were running far from God, He still loved us (Romans 5:8).

How we love…

We learn what love is by looking at Jesus. He gave up something so that we can be given something. He shows us that love is looking out for the wellbeing of another person, no matter what.  Like Nikka the 6-year-old eluded to at the beginning of this post, if you want to love better, choose to love someone who is hard to love.

Thank you, Father for loving me when I’m at my worst. Fill me up with so much of Your love that it overflows on everyone around me. I want to love like you did. Help me to love You and love people, regardless of the circumstances. Soften my heart so I can honor You. Give me Your eyes, so I can see people like You do and love them completely.